In this month's satire, Muhammad Tahir analyses the semiotics of a middle-finger protest, and a controversial new divine cure for daughters.
Baba Remedy made headlines this month with the launch of his Putrajeevak Beej, seeds that he claims can produce sons. There is a big demand for boys in India, and Baba Remedy has cannily tapped into this free market current to maximise his profits. He has to sustain his multi-million dollar herbal business, after all. This is called Sab Ka Kalyan: You reap your sons and I will harvest those coveted pink notes.
However, the name of his divine creation, which some people feel reeks of misogyny and patriarchal mindset, has courted controversy. The Janata Dal’s KC Tayagi was the first parliamentarian to raise this issue in the Rajya Sabha, arguing that the medicine’s name violates Article 15 of the Indian Constitution (prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of sex). Sensing a PR disaster, Swami Remedy immediately called a press conference and, in his defense, said: “It is a Congressi conspiracy to defame me”.
Swami’s statement has not gone well with the Congress, which has of late been championing non-existent ‘nationalist’ causes. In a statement, a party spokesperson rebuked Swami Remedy’s comments and said that the Swami was in cahoots with the ISI and Chinese intelligence. “By pushing this sinister agenda of male baby production through anti-national quacks,” he said, “our enemies seek to create long term social and demographic crisis in our country.”
Mr. Akbaruddin Owasi, a Muslim leader from Hyderabad, soon entered the fray: “It would be rather better for these napunsak Sanghis [impotent right wingers] to consume Putrajeevak Beej themselves, as they are hollow inside”.
Swami’s statement has not gone well with the Congress, which has of late been championing non-existent ‘nationalist’ causes. In a statement, a party spokesperson rebuked Swami Remedy’s comments and said that the Swami was in cahoots with the ISI and Chinese intelligence.
In the meantime, Swami Remedy announced that in the future, packets of the medicine would carry the following disclaimer:
“The medicine Putrajeevak Beej is composed of unique herbs harvested in virgin areas of Mount Kailash and prepared at Divya Aushadhi Nirmanshala (Divya Pharmacy), a WHO-certified laboratory. It cures infertility and erectile dysfunction but does not guarantee birth of a son. Any birth of a female child after the usage is merely by chance and Divya Pharmacy does not take any responsibility for that. Use at your own discretion. Should any legal issue arise, only a court in a BJP-ruled state has jurisdiction to take up the case.”
The pharmaceutical giant Pfizer—which launched the miracle drug Viagra—is reported to be sponsoring market research to measure the effects of the Putrajeevak Beej. The company is now vying to purchase the patent for Baba Remedy’s desi miracle drug to widen its wide bouquet of pleasure-dom drugs.
Another global corporate giant, Coca-Cola, is also prospecting for a fortune in the booming sanskari market. Given the huge potential market for mass-produced Gaw Mutra (cow urine), the company is exploring possibilities of a tie-up with the Government of India to set up a high-capacity Urine Cola plant in Ahmedabad. Once operational, the company will produce 10,000 gallons per day. As part of its marketing strategy, the company will commission a three-volume biography of Morarji Desai, one of the famous cow urine drinkers of modern India. According to sources, the news has buoyed up the elite Indian historian club of the subaltern bent, who hope and pray that they bag the project.
Besides, the company is also going to sponsor some scientific studies which will highlight the medical properties of the Urine Cola. Selected Indian mainstream media outlets will be paid hefty sums to report these scientific findings.
***Recent talk of “separate townships” for Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir has raked up controversy after controversy. The Mufti sarkar is being pressurised from all sides, which has made his mind go wobbly and sometimes makes his ministers go bananas. Yaseen Malik organised a sit-in and hunger strike against the idea and was even seen flanked by some Hindus, marching through the ever-volatile area of Maisuma, singing “Sangh Sangh Jiyenge, Sangh Sangh Marenge (We shall live and die together).”
Right from the inception of the Panun Kashmir (Our Kashmir) organisation, Anupam Kher was always there. He has remained its long serving pracharak. But not many people know what the heck this Panun Kashmir is. Some argue that it is a body of neo-fascist Islamophobic Kashmiri Pandits whose anthem is “If there is evil in the world, it is Muslims, it is Muslims, it is Muslims”. But Anupam Kher does not believe in this crap; he thinks the Nazis were better, any day.
Some Kashmiri Pandits went on to say that they are Jews of South Asia, metaphorically. This has lead many Kashmiri Muslim op-ed writers to speculate, “Then if they go ahead with the separate settlement plans, are we going to be the Palestinians of South Asia?”
“It was unbecoming that they left Jagmohan’s feast midway,” Rashid was quoted as saying. “I am upset about it. Now come on and say sorry. You know that the biryani burnt our tender tongues; you could at least have provided us some water.”
Another controversy related to the Kashmiri Pandits was the sudden rise of their middle fingers. A number of young educated, elite Kashmiri Pandits posted pictures of their middle fingers on Twitter and Facebook as a response to MLA Engineer Rashid, who had said that the Kashmiri Pandits should apologise for leaving the Kashmiri Muslims behind when Jagmohan was serving spicy biryani in 1990.
“It was unbecoming that they left Jagmohan’s feast midway,” he was quoted as saying. “I am upset about it. Now come on and say sorry. You know that the biryani burnt our tender tongues; you could at least have provided us some water.”
Some professional Kashmiri Pandits, some of whom also work for Adani and other big corporates, retorted back by starting a hashtag #dimwitRashid on the Twitter battlefield.
Showing the middle finger has become a fashionable mark of protest and an expression of disapproval, which has been popularised by Hollywood and western TV shows. Its import into the South Asian cultures is not hard to imagine, given Bollywood’s record of copying the angrezi holy shit.
“Even in the West, they blur any image of middle finger on the screen,” said a media analyst. “It is not considered as an appropriate expression.”
“We always believed that the Kashmiri Pandits were educated and cultured people, but doing such vulgar things has shaken this belief of mine”, a pseudo Kashmiri Pandit well-wisher commented on Facebook. Another one wrote: “They even posted pictures of their two-year old kids showing a tiny middle finger. How outrageous is that!”
We think people are reading too much into this middle finger controversy. As our Freudian friends say, you have to understand the subtext. One alternate theory has been put forward, which says that the middle finger can also indicate a pathology of erectile dysfunction. However as with most psychoanalytical stuff, this erectile dysfunction thing is not to be taken as a physiological feature in a person, but is to be understood in a metaphorical sense. We firmly believe that those who produced the middle finger protest pictures are also capable of producing other wonders also. So, we are ready to consider the metaphorical meaning of the finger protest.
Another theory, propounded by famous Kashmiri social scientist Gul Kak, takes a both psychological and a sociological view. “Here’s the thing,” he argues. “The Indian coffee-table intellectuals cannot understand Kashmiri Pandit semiotics as much as Kashmiri Muslims can, because we share many things in common, such as our shared impulse to live in a fool’s paradise”.
According to Gul Kak, when Kashmiri Pandits become angry they don’t express their anger as clearly through spoken words as through their body language and prattle. For instance, you will often see when they fall short of words to express anger they prattle out “prrrrrrr…” Therefore, this middle finger thing is not an expression of anger as much as innate obstinacy. Since the target audience of the middle finger was Kashmiris, it certainly meant: Kokras chai kuni zang (transliteration: the cock has a single leg—roughly translated, my way or the highway).
***Swami Agnivesh, who has been touring Kashmir recently, said that Lord Shiva told him in a dream that separate townships are not a good idea, as it will divide the people and create tensions. This made Anupam Kher lose his patience. He called a press conference to rebut Swami’s claims. “How can he say lord Shiva spoke to him? This guy cannot even speak Kashmiri.”
The Swami was angered by Kher’s remarks and retorted, “This filmy guy is a number-one liar. Could he please tell us why he goes on saying on TV he and his family were forced to leave Kashmir in 1990, when in reality he was not even there? His family had moved to Shimla two generations ago.”
This middle finger thing is not an expression of anger as much as innate obstinacy. Since the target audience of the middle finger was Kashmiris, it certainly meant: Kokras chai kuni zang (transliteration: the cock has a single leg—roughly translated, my way or the highway).
When we asked NDTV anchor Sonia Singh why she didn’t ask him this question, she replied, “You see he talks so passionately about the topic that it is hard to interrupt him. You have to respect others’ emotions.” But how can you let him lie so openly, isn’t it hurting your credibility? “You have to understand, the Indian audience respects others’ emotions more than any credibility-shrediblity”.
Given the state of the mainstream Indian media, we suggest that the former NBC anchor Brain Williams, who is also known for “speaking emotionally”—i.e., lying—about his experiences in Iraq, join NDTV. At least he will get some respect here.